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FOG! Exclusive!: Read ‘Cade vs. The Bloody Benders’ by Christopher Farnsworth!

Chris Farnsworth writes some of the most entertaining books currently being published. In his Cade series, Nathaniel Cade is the President’s vampire – sworn by a blood oath to protect the President and America from their supernatural enemies. …

His latest Cade adventure, a novella called Deep State is currently only available digitally from Farnsworth, himself.  But fear not, we’ve got an exclusive short story, where Cade goes up against a family of serial killers in the Old West and the skinny on how FOG! readers can add Deep State to their summer reading list.

 

Cade vs. The Bloody Benders

 

CHERRYVALE, KANSAS, APRIL 5, 1873.

The family placed Cade at the head of the table.

He’d arrived at the Wayside Inn outside Cherryvale after sundown. The family was agitated, but not by his presence. There seemed to be a brief debate between the four of them conducted in a guttural language that sounded like German. Cade could hear every word but didn’t understand a single one. He made a mental note to himself to begin learning languages. His mind seemed to have an infinite capacity since he was changed and not all of his prey would speak English.

After a few moments, the family patriarch cut off the argument with a firm tone and a chopping motion of his hand. His iron-gray hair and beard gave him the look of an Old Testament prophet delivering the word of God. His wife — or sister, the reports were uncertain — looked unhappy, but her deeply lined face did not appear to do much smiling in any case. The son, a handsome man with slightly addled eyes, did not appear to care one way or another. But there was no mistaking the look of triumph on the fine-boned features of the daughter. Whatever decision the old man had made, it was the one she wanted.

The family was solicitous of Cade, but only she was talkative. She introduced them all around as they sat for the meal. The old man, her father, was John, she said. Her mother was Kate, who dumped stew onto a plate in front of Cade, her face still set in a frown. The younger man was John Jr. He looked up at his name and started to stand, but his father put him back in his chair with a hard glance.

And the young woman was also named Kate, after her mother. “And your name is Cade,” she laughed, putting a hand on his arm. “We’ll have to be very specific about who we ask to pass the salt tonight.”

Her touch lingered. If Cade still had any attraction to humans, he might have been charmed. She was lovely, possessing as her brother did the finer parts of both her parents without the damage of their years. Or, for that matter, their foul tempers. But it was more than that. Kate had a vitality, an awareness that was missing from the rest of the family. It was as if the younger Kate had access to a hidden spring of life and energy.

Whatever it was, it certainly wasn’t the food. Cade looked at the rancid, cold mess on his plate and was thankful he no longer ate.

“You said you were from Washington, Mr. Cade?” Kate asked. “Then you must be well-versed in Spiritualism. Have you any experience with the mysteries of the Other Side?”

“I’ve heard of it,” Cade said.

“It is my great passion,” she said. “I am not too modest to say that I have conducted séances and readings for our visitors. I’ve even lectured at the town hall on the subject. Of course, that caused quite a scandal.”

“Really?”

An impish grin came onto her face. “I believe, as many Spiritualists do, that our bodies are not meant to be chained with false morality. Some say this means I believe in wanton and slatternly behavior. Some even called me a witch. But surely we were not given these forms if we were not meant to enjoy them?”

Cade said nothing.

“Perhaps you would allow me to give you a private session?”

Her eyes danced when she said this and Cade knew how previous travelers on this route were distracted.

Without waiting for his answer, she took Cade’s hand and held it. The mother grunted and scowled and left the table, taking away plates to the kitchen. The father gave a nearly imperceptible nod to the son, and they both rose and went into another room.

“My, but your hand is cold, Mr. Cade. Perhaps we can do something about that.”

She looked at his palm. Her practiced smile faltered. “Your life-line,” she said, suddenly uncertain. Whatever she saw in Cade’s palm, it was enough to throw her off her practiced script. She recovered quickly, but the confusion was still evident when she looked in Cade’s eyes. “Your life-line. Yes. I see a long and prosperous — “

Cade jerked his hand away so quickly it sounded like whip moving through the air. Behind him, he held the large iron hammer that John Jr. had swung, almost silently, toward the back of his head. John Jr., not quite realizing what had happened, struggled mightily with the handle.

Cade kept the hammer in place, as still as a rock.

Kate’s mouth was open in shock. Cade, with barely a shift in his position, yanked on the hammer and sent John Jr. flying over the table and into the far wall.

Cade turned at the sound of a wailing banshee. Kate’s mother came at him from the kitchen, screaming and wielding a knife as long as her forearm.

Blüt und Seelen! Blüt and Seelen für Mein Meister!”

Cade flipped the hammer in his grip and threw it with pinpoint accuracy. It crushed her skull and snapped her neck in the same instant. Her body was knocked cleanly off its feet.

The patriarch of the clan was not deterred by this. But he wasn’t about to make the same mistakes as his wife and son, either. Cade heard the revolver slide free from the leather of the holster hidden under the man’s shirt. He kicked at the base of the table and sent it skidding over the wooden floor. It hit the old man at the waist and ran over him like a steam engine.

Kate was still staring, still in her chair.

Cade, still seated as well, turned his gaze back to her.

She regained enough presence of mind to begin a chant. It was not the guttural language they had spoken earlier. It was more glottal, wetter-sounding, a collection of vowels and sibilance tangled together.

Cade felt something gather in the dark with only the first word or two. He didn’t give it any more time to develop. His hand went to her throat. She choked and stopped speaking. Cade allowed her just enough air to breathe.

Pulling her along with him, he stood and kicked his chair away. He examined the floor behind him. Cade had smelled death and rot and fear from outside the front door. It was strongest here. His eyes picked out the hairline joins in the boards where the trap door was hidden.

Still holding Kate by the throat, he reached down and lifted the door open. The stink of death hit him like a garden in summer. This was where they had dumped the bodies of all the other travelers after the hammer blows. Many, many bodies. He couldn’t separate all the different scents.

John Jr. had recovered enough to gain his feet. He saw his sister — or wife, as the reports had it — in Cade’s hand and charged like a bull.

Cade threw the woman at him, sending them both to the floor in a tangle of limbs.

He faced Kate and showed his fangs. The shock, along with the pain in her throat, kept her from repeating her chant.

Das Vampir,” she breathed. “Blütsauger.” Her face was a muddle of confusion and pain. “I had hoped — had prayed — We were trying to summon you. But why this? Have we displeased you?”

Cade crossed to her. Her brother groaned. Cade tossed him away like a scrap of trash. Any answers would come from her.

“Tell me who you serve. It was never about the thefts, was it? You sold their goods, but that’s not why you killed them. Who were you serving?”

Kate looked even more baffled. “You know. You must.”

“I am not who you think I am,” Cade said.

Then Kate smiled, just a little. Arrogance shone through her eyes.

“Someone will succeed where we failed. Someone else will call him. And then — ”

She went quiet as Cade got very close to her. “Whatever you meant to summon, you brought me instead. And whoever tries the same will find me as well.”

She might have replied, but Cade broke her neck with a backhanded slap.

He made certain the men were dead before gathering the bodies and taking them out of the house. He loaded them onto his wagon. Then he hitched the Benders’ horses to their own wagon, already loaded with their stolen goods and possessions. The team needed no encouragement to run when he released them; animals feared Cade instinctively. The horses galloped away, a false lead for anyone who came looking for the family to follow.

He took the family with him in the opposite direction. He’d bury them – and himself – before sunrise, but only he would rise again. No one would ever find them. The Benders would disappear.

True, he could have left them in their gruesome little inn to await the searchers who’d come sooner or later. But his orders were to remove them completely and to give no sign that they’d died. As Kate had confirmed, there were others out there with the same goals as the Benders. Better if those people didn’t know what had happened.

Better if the hunters didn’t realize they were being hunted themselves.

© 2017 Christopher Farnsworth.

Christopher Farnsworth is a novelist, screenwriter, and journalist. His sixth novel, FLASHMOB, is available now everywhere from William Morrow. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisfarnsworth or find out more at www.chrisfarnsworth.com.

 

Pretty awesome, huh?

Now here comes the part where you can read the whole novella.  The best part?  You get another book of Chris’ to check out!

Flashmob focuses on gifted troubleshooter John Smith (introduced in the acclaimed thriller Killfile),  who must take down a shadowy figure who has weaponized the internet, using social media to put a price on the heads of his targets in this intense, unstoppable thriller.

As a fixer for America’s one percent, John Smith cleans up the messes of those rich enough to afford him. But he’s no ordinary gun for hire. Smith is a man of rare gifts, including the ability to read minds.

Arriving at the wedding of Kira Sadeghi, a reality television celebrity he recently saved from kidnappers, Smith witnesses a group of gunmen open fire, hitting the bride and others. Though he’s unarmed, Smith cripples one of the killers and is able to pry one word from his mind: “Downvote.”

Eager to learn more, Smith hacks into the brain of an FBI agent investigating the attack to discover the Bureau has been investigating a nefarious new threat called “Downvote,” an encrypted site on the “dark net” that lists the names of celebrities and offers a hefty bounty for anyone who can kill them—unleashing an anonymous and deadly flashmob with a keystroke.

Finding a mastermind on the internet is like trying to catch air—unless you’re John Smith.

Motivated by money and revenge, he traces a series of electronic signatures to a reclusive billionaire living at sea, accompanied by a scary-smart female bodyguard who becomes Smith’s partner in his quest. The hunt for their prey will lead from Hong Kong to Reykjavik to a luxury gambling resort deep in the Laotian jungle. Yet always this criminal mastermind remains one step ahead.

The only way Downvote’s creator can stop Smith is to kill him . . . because while this diabolical genius can run, there’s no hiding from a man who can read minds.

Pretty awesome, huh?  Now, to get your copy of Deep State, buy yourself a copy of Flashmob, and send proof of purchase to [email protected]

And then cancel your night’s plans and read until morning.

 

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